April 28, 2015

My Middle-Aged White Lady Perspective: Don't Apologize for the Truth

Gleefully stealing an armload of Doritos is not something you do to protest the inexplicable death of a young man in police custody. Nope -- stealing several bags of Doritos and dancing down the street with a bunch of other looters is something you do when you're an idiot, taking advantage of a bad situation and making it worse. It's something you do when you basically don't give a rat about anything other than yourself. 

Leaders of the Baltimore community calling out the looters and trouble-makers for looting and making trouble was the right thing to do, because that behavior completely disrespects the memory of the person who died in police custody and it completely disrespects his family who asked that people take a day off so that they could mourn and celebrate and bury their family member. 

Calling them out is important, because no matter what anyone hopes, the miscreants will get all of the attention, and their behavior will overshadow peaceful protests aimed at the people who must know (but aren't yet saying) why Freddie Gray ended up with a severed spine, and it will overshadow members of the Baltimore community, clergy and others, who put themselves between the rioters and the police, who tried to protect property and people, who did the right thing. We'll hear less about them because of the bad actors.  

Apologizing a day later for calling these folks out does a disservice to everyone who is protesting on purpose, with purpose, for a purpose. Community leaders should do better; communities deserve better from their leaders. 

Lots of folks have lots of reasons for why stuff happens like it did in Ferguson, and like it did in Baltimore and like it does in other places when something happens like the death of Michael Brown or the death of Freddie Gray. It stems, we're told,  from long-standing practices of abuse or brutality or economic injustice or gangs or lack of father figures or lack of opportunity or lack of hope or having to check a box on a job application that you've got a criminal record, or a lack of self-respect, or a bad upbringing, or mental health or drug and alcohol issues or a bad education.

But none of it comes from a lack of Doritos.